White Whiskey An Alternative That Is Worth It - The Whiskey Wash

White Whiskey An Alternative That Is Worth It

By Patrick Girard / July 31, 2019

Recently a sip of white whiskey invigorated me. I noticed that it was as much drinkable as a standard brown colored whiskey. Why does this colorless distilled spirit support such a success story ?

Don’t you know that the start of the whiskey industry saw people drink it young or even right out of the still? At that time, aged whiskey wasn’t as common as it is today, because as soon as the early 1820s whiskey making was a business like any other with quick planned profit. When the Phylloxera crisis in the mid 19th century struck the European wine industry, then oak barrel aged cognac and brandy disappeared from the market. Therefore, aged whiskey took over and gained in popularity. As a drawback of the increased delay to achieve aged whiskey though at high price, however, producers had to find another way to bring in cash.

Nowadays, and because of the high cost of opening a distillery, it is hard to wait two or three years before to get cash back. Making vodka or gin could be an alternative, but why not stake it on white whiskey instead? It would have the advantage to come from the same process as the aged one without any further cost or additional process modification, with the same raw material except the lack of aging time.

Buffalo Trace’s White Dog Mash #1 (image via Buffalo Trace)

Why white whiskeys are worthy

As a craft spirit, some requirements are needed to fulfill characteristics of this product category. How does one hold to quality while keeping immediate market availability? And, also, how does one find the right balance between quality and today’s demand, relying on high quality level and aromatic specificity, while fulfilling affordability as just like any other draft brown aged colored whiskey?

Well, white whiskeys fulfill all the criteria of the craft distilled spirit trend, meaning they are innovative, different, appealing and with multiple usage possibilities. Particularly, they give the possibility to use them for a wider range of mixing than with aged whiskeys, which can display overpowering heavy notes.

White whiskeys offer tasting notes being specific of this category. Pay attention to the range of the following aromatic notes found among them:

  • one can give you a nose with cake batter and citrus, corn and malt notes. Added with complex crisp green apple followed by corn syrup notes. Some fresh grass and hay hints appear as well. While the palate can be nice golden apple taste with a ginger hint. Cinnamon elements are present too and the simple syrup and sugar cookie as main taste,
  • or you can find a nose with fresh, neat, fermentation aroma added with fruity orange and kiwi fruit plus cereal notes with milky hints. With a straight palate added to a spicy finish. Nevertheless notes containing cinnamon, nutmeg, pink and grey pepper are present as well,

Perspectives

Craft distillers are at the origin of white whiskeys rising. It is an additional consequence of the market trend of craft whiskeys. Why? Because this new-make spirit trend is considered by some distillers as the next ‘’Bourbon’’. And because the marketing of white whiskeys allows several advantages and possibilities for a craft distiller. Which ones? As an unaged distilled beverage or aged at least briefly in oak for short time, craft white whiskey is a source of immediate income: a sensitive and needed financial aspect specially for small distilleries when newly operating. The conventional whiskey mass market producers are currently developing and marketing colorless distilled product as well.

This offers the consumers an additional choice to buy individualized brands. From the consumer point of view, numerous other distilled spirits producers are marketing one or several white brands, making them as attractive as any other brown colored craft whiskey.